New York State Announces $75 Million Plan to Help Prevent Hate Crimes
by M.C. Millman
A new multi-faceted, $75 million plan to address and prevent the rise in hate and bias crimes across New York includes millions for additional security grant funds and for law enforcement endeavors.
Funding includes $25 million in security funding for at-risk non-profits, $50 million for local law enforcement agencies to prevent and solve hate crimes and other crimes, and $700,000 to expand the New York State Police’s social media analysis unit.
The multi-faceted plan is aimed at limiting the number of hate and bias crimes to protect the safety and well-being of all New Yorkers.
$25 million in grant funding was added to the $50 million available for the Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes (SCAHC) grants last year, for a total of $75 million in funding available this year.
Before the exact details of the new SCAHC grant are released, the DCJS is expected to develop new innovations and strategies to incorporate into the upcoming 2023-2024 SCAHC program. Potential changes include increases to the maximum award amount which was $50,000 last year per project for a maximum of $150,000 per organization and another $50,000 for cybersecurity; a streamlined, rolling application process; and evaluations of the deployed protective equipment and technology. These potential changes are meant to respond to the current needs and challenges faced by non-profits at risk of hate crimes.
The SCAHC funding goes to shuls, yeshivas, and other non-profit agencies that apply for the grant funds by detailing how they are a target of hate crimes. Applicants can request exterior or interior security improvements, including but not limited to lighting, locks, alarms, panic buttons, fencing, barriers, access controls, shatter-resistant glass and blast-resistant film, public address systems, and, for the second time, measures to strengthen cybersecurity. Funds can also cover costs associated with security training.
The $50 million available in law enforcement technology and equipment can be used to modernize operations and more effectively solve and prevent crimes, including hate crimes. Agencies can seek funding for a variety of equipment and technology, including but not limited to license plate readers, mobile and fixed surveillance cameras, computer-aided dispatch systems, software, unmanned aerial vehicles, gunshot detection devices, and smart equipment for patrol vehicles and police officers.
An additional $700,000 is being offered to New York State Police, who already track publicly available social media activity and posts to assist in identifying credible criminal activity happening in the state. The new funds will be used for enhancing the Social Media Analysis Unit at the NYSIC by staffing a team of analysts to perform daily analysis of publicly available social media activity — particularly that which pertains to school violence threats, gang activity, and illegal firearms — to tie information back to existing criminal investigations, initiate new investigations, and communicate information on threats to appropriate field personnel.